Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday that although the Obama administration may not have technically violated the law in taking military action against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, serious concerns remain about how the decision was made.
“Many Americans are still looking for answers,” the Ohio Republican told a small group of reporters during a late afternoon interview.
Boehner’s comments came after his leadership team abruptly canceled a planned vote Wednesday on a resolution condemning the military actions to provide further time for debate.
When asked whether the administration had violated the War Powers Act, Boehner said, “Technically, no. ... Legally, they’ve met the requirements of the War Powers Act.”
Under the 1973 law, the president is generally supposed to end military force within 60 days unless lawmakers authorize further action. The Libya operation began March 21, and Obama sent Congressional leaders a letter May 20, the day of the deadline, to request their support for the United States’ continued work with the operation.
But Boehner was unwilling on Wednesday to fully endorse the decision to join an international coalition enforcing a no-fly zone over the North African nation.
“How is this action consistent with U.S. national security and policy goals? Who are the opposition? How does Gadhafi go?” he asked. “There are a lot of questions that remain out there, and, frankly, I think Members on both sides of the aisle are looking for answers about this. And they’re looking for some clarity.”
Boehner and his leadership team plan to hold a closed-door meeting Thursday to discuss the operation in Libya after lawmakers used their regular caucus meeting Wednesday morning to express their frustration with U.S. involvement in the military operation.
Boehner said the delay in considering the Libya resolution, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), should help lawmakers hold a better debate.
“We decided the House wasn’t ready to decide the question, and I think before we proceed we want to do so in what we think is in the best interests of our country and allow for a process for the American people’s will to be heard,” Boehner said.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.